Video: The good and the gaps on bike route to new PDX airport path

You’ve all seen the cool new bike path that leads directly into the Portland International Airport terminal. But what good is safe bike infrastructure, if you have to risk your life to access it? And what’s it like to ride from north/northeast Portland neighborhoods to the new path?

When I made that video earlier this month I grabbed footage of my entire ride to the new path, but only shared the the last segment. In this video you’ll see what it’s like to go from Peninsula Park near I-5 in north Portland to the start of the path.

Along the way, you’ll learn about the extremely bumpy and potholed NE Holman neighborhood greenway, the blissful pocket park at Holman and NE 13th, experience the gap on the NE 42 Ave overpass to Columbia Blvd, see how the new(ish) protected bike lane on NE 47th is holding up, ride the white-knuckle gauntlet of NE Cornfoot Rd, and then find out how to connect to off-street sidewalks of NE 82nd Way and get to NE Air Cargo Rd where my other video picks up.

I also shared a bit of news in this video. That (last time I checked) PBOT has funding to build a new path along NE Cornfoot in 2026 and that the Port of Portland will start a project next summer to redesign the NE 82nd Way/Air Cargo Rd intersection to improve bike network connections to the new path.

Remember, getting to the airport by bike isn’t just some cool thing for privileged travelers, there are thousands of people who work at or near the airport who need/want an alternative to driving.

Do you ever ride parts of this route? What has your experience been? Do you think a significant amount of Portlanders would bike to the airport if we had a safe, “8-80” quality route the entire way?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Ted Buehler
14 days ago

I think the route to the airport is pretty good.

I ride Cornfoot pretty regularly. It’s never been “white knuckle” for me.

I love Holman. 42nd Ave overpass is fine. (It has Sharrows).

Also, from Alderwood you can skip 82nd Ave altogether and ride on the old 82nd ROW straight from Alderwood to the new path. It’s called “construction traffic only”. No fences, no activity in the last year. You can spot it from the sign, or just zoom in on the Strava Heat Map to see how other people are getting from Alderwood to Air Cargo Road.

Try it out, folks! Grab a friend. Or a few, and cruise to the airport for fun. Grab a bite at Elephants Delicatessen and have a picnic on the grass by the MAX with a view of Mt Hood on your way back out.

Ted Buehler

X
X
13 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

Well heck. A city that talks bike on the level Portland does should have a plain path to the airport that doesn’t depend on local knowledge, a sporty attitude, and having the right app on your phone.

The 42nd Ave bridge isn’t so bad going downhill but uphill is just freaky (and I have no dependents). Sharrows are DOT magical thinking. Is there a time of the moon that they start to work?

The thing about Cornfoot is not that it’s so very very bad but that it would have been so very very easy to put a separated bike path in there a long time ago, and we’re still two years out?! Even a little foresight could have made it ‘shovel ready’ if money was all we lacked.

The NE 47th side path is deserted because it’s stranded infrastructure. This makes bike route development seem pointless because hey, we spent all that money and no bike riders appear? Bike riders don’t come out of the corn, they have to get to NE 47th by way of the neglected gaps to the N, S, E and W.

Not everyone wants go by air but the airport is the face of the city for many strangers. If they come with a bike they may well get some Himalayan blackberry in the chops. That’s a lousy first date!

If we want mode share then any place with that many jobs needs attention paid to adjacent bike routes. Not incrementally, not in dribs and drabs, but all the way out to the horizon, to places where people live, to transit centers and to shopping districts.

John V
John V
14 days ago

Haha, that pocket park, I always have to do a couple circles in it when I have my kid with me! And it’s a good water stop.

MattC
MattC
14 days ago

I rode on the new bike path a couple weeks ago. I was flying out for the weekend, so I only had a backpack and it was easy to haul. The new bike path is great. I got there via Cully/Alderwood. It’s a shorter unprotected white-knuckle segment than Cornfoot, and more convenient from where I live.

I think biking to the airport is a hard sell – I’ve done it a few times, but you need little luggage, a love of biking, and everyone who is going with you to feel similarly. I think focusing on bike routes that let folks who work at PDX commute by bike seem like a higher priority – and those of us who want to bike to our PDX flights will benefit from the infrastructure we build for commuters.

Ted Buehler
14 days ago
Reply to  MattC

I don’t think it’s necessarily a hard sell. I ride it a lot.

And with discount airlines now giving lowest fares to those with only a small backpack it makes it easier to plan. No need for a rack to hold a suitcase.

Ted Buehler

Matt
Matt
14 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

I applaud your advocating for folks to give it a try and the detailed routes you’ve provided are helpful. But this video has firmed up my vibe that I don’t want to attempt that 42nd to 47th gap and the inordinately gnarly Cornfoot stretch. It doesn’t look pleasant, even though it was filmed on a sunny weekend.

The bike infrastructure for this route has to be far more protected for any but the intrepid to give it a try. Getting to the airport on bike should feel quotidian, not quixotic.

Micah
Micah
12 days ago
Reply to  Matt

You go to war with the bike infra you have…. I totally agree with what you are saying, but, like Ted Buehler said, it’s not THAT bad.

Ted Buehler
14 days ago

Amit and I led a ride to the airport last summer. Video here.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tH7SB1KWMDk

Nick
Nick
14 days ago

Rosa Parks and MLK going East is insanely frustrating/dangerous if there’s traffic, lots of right hooks to watch out for and failure to yield from vehicles.

Micah
Micah
12 days ago
Reply to  Nick

If the light is red (90% of the time), move to the left side of bike box to reduce conflict with the illegally turning traffic, which will be able to get around you on the right. Unless you are purposefully blocking the car traffic, in which case I have some exercises to strengthen your middle finger. I’m most afraid of the police running me over there as they frequently come screaming through, sometime with lights/siren sometime not.

Peter
Peter
12 days ago
Reply to  Micah

Illegal turns on red seem to be a problem with the new bike boxes in general, in my personal experience. My hypothesis has to do with the signage – currently the signs are aligned with the “Wait Here” line for cars, so when a driver pulls up to it, the sign is too far off to the side for them to see. I wish the signs were either hanging next to the lights, or across the street instead.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that drivers see the sign and make a choice to ignore it, in which case moving the signs would be moot.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
10 days ago
Reply to  Peter

Nothing to do with the signage and everything to do with motorists’ deeply held conviction that they SHOULD (in a normative sense) be able to make the turn. They know it’s not legal, but most of them think it is safe and harmless. We discus policy a lot in terms of tangible things like infrastructure and facilities, but there are political dimensions to the change on the street. I hope the post-covid ragefest out on the streets is starting to abate. I invite my fellow bicyclists to help the process by demonstrating patience and good will towards well meaning law breakers.

Paul
Paul
13 days ago

Taking MAX with your bike is much safer.

Micah
Micah
12 days ago

Do you ever ride parts of this route? What has your experience been?

I ride this route 2-3 time per week, except the last bit from Alderwood and 82nd to the airport. As others have said, there’s no real show stoppers and the riding is pleasant. But many things could be improved:

  1. Cornfoot is unpleasant and the separate path can’t happen fast enough — narrow shoulders with high speed traffic, much of it big trucks;
  2. the overpass over Lombard and train tracks on 47th is terrible regardless of which direction you’re traveling, but esp. S/Wbound. Nothing quite as fun as cresting the hill with aggro traffic riding your ass to dodge all the traffic exiting Lombard;
  3. Holman is freaking awesome, but it would be soooo much better if it was smoothly paved.

Do you think a significant amount of Portlanders would bike to the airport if we had a safe, “8-80” quality route the entire way?

I think what would help generate some more bike traffic is quality connections to Marine Dr., Cascade Station, and PDX that are obviously safe and well marked. Most of the routes are there, but it can be hard to find them. There are lots of good paths, but they can be pretty hard to figure out how to link on the fly. (For example, I stumbled across the 47th bike path and was dumbfounded that there was this nice path with no way a timid rider could get to the path or even know it was there. I as like ‘what is this doing here?’)

Finally, I would recommend less adventurous riders to take the Marine Dr. path to PDX before trying to coach them from 42nd and Holman to PDX.

Ted Buehler
10 days ago

I noticed in the video that PBOT recently lowered the speed limit on Cornfoot from 40 mph to 35. Nice work PBOT, thanks!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/EarLG7172wcn6nvV8?g_st=ic

Mitch
Mitch
4 days ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

Alderwood Rd. also got that earlier this year. I still see drivers going probably 45, but at least it slows some of them down…